Cooking With Ava: Classic Honey Lemonade
I will admit, I am not always that super patient mom who is carefree in the kitchen and lets their kids cover their sugar cookies with crazy icing and sprinkles until their hearts are content. I am a not-so-secret control freak who still cringes at the notion of 1000+ sprinkles peppering every corner of my floor and is exhausted by the prospect of scrubbing wayward neon pink icing off the fronts of my cabinet doors as well as my kids hair. However, I am getting better at letting go so our kitchen time can be more enjoyable. In my heart I do want my children in the kitchen, and I do want them to love food as much as I do, so I have been making conscious efforts to dial back the crazy and include Ava in the kitchen whenever I can. Ollie is only 14 months and a bit of a tornado, so I think we can all give me a pass for not bringing him in juuuust yet. He does hang out in the kitchen sink a lot so that should count for something. 😉
The other day Ava came to me and told me lemonade stand season was coming up and asked if she could make her own lemonade from scratch. Like the way we did for our last lemonade stand I asked? (Ie: frozen Minute Maid.) No, from scratch she replied. Like with real lemons. Ok, I thought, we can do that. We juice a lot in this house, so we almost always have lemons on hand, but that day we didn’t. So to the store we went to pick out the perfect lemons for the job. Now I may not be ultra laid back about kids in the kitchen all the time, but I am awesome about kids in the grocery store. Some of our best outings are days when we head to Whole Foods or Sprouts and shop for fresh fruits and veg. I love teaching Ava about the different varieties of produce, how to check for freshness, and what ‘looks good’. Ollie loves sitting in the cart seat and flirting with the ladies that cross his path and pinch his cheeks. We left with 15 ‘perfect’ lemons, a jar of local honey, and probably 10+ other things we hadn’t planned to get, but apparently really needed.
When we got home, Ava was pretty clear that she intended to do everything herself. She got set up at the sink and began scrubbing her lemons since some would end up in the lemonade to enhance the flavor. Then I cut them in halfs and she used our wooden citrus reamer to squeeze the juice out of each lemon. There was a bit of a learning curve here, but after I showed her how to do one or two, she had no problem finishing the job.
Once the lemons were juiced, she strained it to remove any wayward seeds or pulp and set the juice to the side. She then added the honey to the glass jar we intended to use, and I slowly poured hot water in while she mixed. Ideally you would combine this in a pot on the stove, but this was easier (read: safer) for a 5-year-old, plus the mixing is a big part for the appeal for anything kids do in the kitchen. She mixed for a while until the honey was fully dissolved, and then added in the strained lemon juice and mixed some more. Finally, we diluted it with additional water, ice, and tossed in a few of the squeezed lemon rinds. She had several tasters and announced that is was perfect.
Talk about a mom victory. This was a recipe with minimal mess, minimal ingredients, and minimal effort, but the whole activity took us the better part of an afternoon and everyone was happy almost the whole time. 10 points to me. 😊
5-6 large lemons (roughly 1 ¼ c fresh juice)
¼ - ½ c. honey
5c cold water
Mint for garnish (optional)
Wash and clean lemons, and slice into halfs.
Using a citrus reamer or a manual juicer, extract the lemon juice. Approx. 1 1/4c of juice.
Strain the juice for seeds and pulp. We used a hand-held fine mesh strainer but you could also use a milk bag. Set the strained juice aside.
Heat 1 c. of water on the stove or in the microwave. Add the honey to the hot water and stir until dissolved.
Add the lemon juice and combine, mixing well.
Add the remaining water cup by cup, tasting as you go so you don’t over-dilute your lemonade.
Add as much ice and leftover lemon rinds as desired.
Enjoy right away.
Happy lemonade making friends. 🍋